In Chris Schwarz Blog, Shaping, Woodworking Blogs, Woodworking Classes

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I spent Saturday watching and photographing carver Mary May teach a class on ball-and-claw feet at the Woodwright’s School in Pittsboro, N.C.

Mary, a traditionally trained professional carver, lives and works outside Charleston, S.C., and teaches carving classes all over the country – you can see her at Woodworking in America this year. And if you cannot travel to learn from her, soon you will be able to sign up for a subscription to her video-based web site at

She’s a great teacher – incredibly calm, knowledgeable and in control (in other words, nothing like the chaos of my classes). If you are interested in traditional carving methods, you should definitely check out her DVDs and the accompanying plaster casts that she sells through her web site. Each of the students had a casting of the finished ball-and-claw foot, which greatly sped their progress.

During a short break in her instruction, Mary gave this short tutorial on how to sharpen a V-chisel, one of the most vexing carving tools.

— Christopher Schwarz

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Showing 2 comments
  • loloane

    An excellent tutorial. Well demonstrated. Excellent narration.

  • Mitch Wilson

    I took a couple of hour long seminars with Mary at the NWA Showcase in Saratoga Springs this past March and she was outstanding. This was a great way for a complete novice in carving like me to get an introduction to this technique. And she doesn’t distract you in her closed circuit television close-ups by bleeding all over her blades and wood. Better than Roy.


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